Cape Town’s RLabs launches bitcoin crowdfunding platform

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Cape Town-based social impact incubator RLabs has launched bitcoin crowdfunding platform mToto, which allows users to donate to projects focused on the early childhood development (ECD) and education sectors using cryptocurrencies.

Founded in 2008, social enterprise RLabs looks to create an environment for community-driven innovation and reconstruction. Its Youth Cafes have seen more than 20,000 visits, while in May it played host to a BBC development studio to find solutions for Africa.

Its latest initiative, mToto – meaning “child” in Swahili – is the result of a partnership with Uusi and aims to develop new tools and innovative models to address challenges in the ECD and education spaces, with a specific focus on providing tools and support to underserved educare centres in marginalised and under-resourced communities in South Africa.

The crowdfunding platform will allow users to donate bitcoin to a number of projects listed on site, with RLabs founder Marlon Parker telling Disrupt Africa the organisation was looking to help activate ECD projects on the continent by tapping into the power of the blockchain community.

Once donations are made, mToto converts bitcoin into cash and funnels it to the projects in question, with Parker saying RLabs hoped to raise direct bitcoins for around four ECD projects per month.

“We convert the Bitcoin to cash and resources and share the results each month with the broader community,” Parker said.

“Many ECD centres and projects don’t have funds to ensure a greater learning experience for the children as many of the parents of those kids are unemployed therefore unable to provide the required support. RLabs mToto want to address that challenge by leveraging the power of bitcoin, giving marginalised children and centres the opportunity to have an improved learning journey.

RLabs believes in the power of digital and alternative currencies as possible catalysts to drive social change in Africa, Parker said, given it is fast and immediately accessible, incurs low transfer costs, and results in the receipt of a single currency without the need to manage multiple currencies for the projects.

“Our target is current bitcoin users who have an interest in using it for social good. In this instance we focusing on those with an interest in the development of children,” he said.

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Passionate about the vibrant tech startups scene in Africa, Tom can usually be found sniffing out the continent’s most exciting new companies and entrepreneurs, funding rounds and any other developments within the growing ecosystem.

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